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Friday, January 02, 2009

A letter from Jerusalem - a spiritual response

EoZ friend Yerushalimey, who should really be enjoying his first week with his new bride rather than emailing me, forwards an email from a friend named Steve in Jerusalem for a proper Jewish response to the impending ground battle.

Good Shabbos, Good Shabbos,

Hi to everyone -- in the name of, towards the zchus [merit] of my son Yitzhak Avrohom Chaim ben Shabtai Moshe and Rena Bracha, (he should live and be well) who is now stationed and ready with his fellow soldiers to defend our land -- to ensure (as much as we can ensure) that we here in Israel are safe, b'ezrat Hashem..in his name i would like to offer this thought.

(the following dvar torah is also in response to the questions from outside - other people - and from inside -- How am I / How are we doing -- with Yitzhak "on the front" so to speak...so, I'm answering that question, as well...)

In times of disaster, hard times, times of stress - times of WAR - It seems natural to ask, What can I do? (or on a community level - what can we do?) What extra can I do to help fix the situation?...and this happens, i think, on both the physical and spiritual planes...and specifically regarding the spiritual plane, the answers that most often come up (in my humble opinion/ experience) are that we often decide to learn more, to undertake an extra stringency of practice, to say extra tehillim [Psalms], or to have group tehillim readings, to pray with more fervor -- and other similar actions. And all of these are holy actions and I am sure they make their mark in Heaven, and bring down extra heavenly goodness, in the proper proportion. I am not going to disagree with any of that.

However, I think i found another answer - another way to answer the question: "what more can I do?" -- another way, which is actually, perhaps, "The Way", all along -- nothing extra, nothing beyond what we are already doing.

It was in davening [prayer] today that a phrase in Tachanun jumped out at me, and I realize that this was an answer -- that saying Shema is the answer -- and that saying Shema is the one thing that as long as we continue saying Shema, we will be zocheh (we will warrant) G-d's protection.

Let me explain:

In Tachanun it says:
"שומר ישראל, שמור שארית ישראל, ואל יאבד ישראל - האומרים שמע ישראל".
O Guardian of Israel, protect the remnant of Israel, let not Israel be destroyed -- those who proclaim - Hear O Israel . (those who say the Shema.)

That's it! We say the Shema, we become one of Israel who says the Shema, one who warrants G-d's protection.

So that's it. Not to suddenly say Shema in order to warrant protection. Just to say shema, as prescribed -- 3 times a day, and to understand that in saying Shema we are taking on the Yoke of Heaven -- we are proclaiming that G-d is our G-d and that G-d is one -Master of the Universe --

and that's what we need to do: Daven it -- take it seriously -- connect with the Creator of the Universe -- and know that this connection and proclaiming G-d is One is what merits our protection.

"שומר ישראל, שמור שארית ישראל, ואל יאבד ישראל - האומרים שמע ישראל".
"Shomer Yisrael, shmor shearis yisrael, v'al yovad yisroel, haomrim. shema yisroel."

May all of Israel be blessed with peace - safety - with the understanding that G-d runs the world and that G-d is One, and that our safety is in His hands.

May Yitzhak be safe.

Good Shabbos, Good Shabbos
steve